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Doug Orth | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

The Art of the Auction
The Huddle Expert Auction League Draft Recap - 2019

This coming season will mark the 11th year I have participated in The Huddle Expert Auction League. Over the first 10 seasons, FF Today has made the six-team playoff every time (last year's team was a No. 1 seed for the second straight time) and advanced to the championship game in seven of the last nine years - winning it all for the third time. Suffice it to say my approach has proven to be effective.

This year’s draft was held on August 6 - two weeks earlier than last season and at least one week earlier than usual - so keep that date in mind as you review the prices below (both the price each player went for and the value at which I set for him).

Below, you will find the values I used to prioritize the players and the rationale I used in selecting my team.


Due to how much earlier the draft was this year and the fact I had just finished my first Big Board less than 24 hours earlier, it's fair to say this is the least prepared I have felt entering an auction draft since probably the first time I participated in one back in 2009. In other words, I had a plan formulated but no time to actually test it out.

The plan entering this particular auction was securing one of my top three backs (Alvin Kamara, Christian McCaffrey or Saquon Barkley), another potential high-end RB1 at a discount price (someone like Todd Gurley or Dalvin Cook who has overall RB1 upside but was cheaper than usual for obvious reasons) and a top-end WR1. I also wanted either Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz or George Kittle, although securing either one of them was less important to me than satisfying my first three wishes.

Kamara was generally regarded as the fourth-best option at running back in July and early August drafts. Since he's the top player on my Big Board, it was a no-brainer to target him since he should come the cheapest of the four top backs. Short of landing Kelce or Kittle, I wanted to spend less than $15 at tight end. Given the depth at quarterback, I hoped I could show enough restraint to pay less than $10.

Each year, I also make it a point to pay less than my valuation on just about every player, knowing the depth at receiver will allow me to find a bargain or two. Ideally, I’ll come away from a draft with two surefire starters at running back and another mid-priced player I believe will be an RB2 to use as my flex, but it doesn’t always work that way.

Although it is a departure from conventional auction-draft strategy, I’ve never been a big fan of setting pre-draft positional budgets – such as spending 40 percent of my budget at receiver or $80 at running back. My method: isolate the players I want the most, highlight them on my spreadsheet and keep a record of how much a player goes for a little bit lower on the page. I stay true to my valuations with very few exceptions and stick with that "preferred" list of players as long as possible. A list of 300-plus players can be daunting, especially when trying to research how much players in a certain tier went for with no more than 10 or 15 seconds to make a decision, so it makes a ton of sense to focus in on about 50.

The Draft

Players with bolded names are ones I specifically selected before the draft as players I was targeting. The key is picking players from several different tiers and expected cost valuations.

Below you will find the actual prices that secured a player’s services (Act $) and the price I valued them before the draft (My $). A dash in the first column reflects the fact a player was not nominated. The highlight represents winning bids for FF Today. Finally, I will follow each position with some brief commentary.

All values are based on a $200 cap and players are organized by “My $”. All players that were nominated are included, but I removed a number of players that are unlikely to go in auctions in leagues with 12 teams and 18-man rosters or for other common-sense reasons.

Required starters: 1 QB, 2 RBs, 3 WRs, 1 Flex, 1 K and 1 Defense/Special Teams unit.

Deshaun Watson

Actual $ My $ Player Tm
14 16 Deshaun Watson HOU
21 16 Patrick Mahomes KC
12 15 Aaron Rodgers GB
11 14 Carson Wentz PHI
3 13 Kyler Murray ARI
4 12 Cam Newton CAR
13 12 Andrew Luck IND
6 11 Russell Wilson SEA
8 10 Matt Ryan ATL
3 8 Jameis Winston TB
13 6 Baker Mayfield CLE
4 5 Jared Goff LAR
3 4 Lamar Jackson BAL
2 3 Dak Prescott DAL
5 3 Drew Brees NO
1 3 Ben Roethlisberger PIT
1 2 Mitch Trubisky CHI
1 2 Kirk Cousins MIN
3 2 Tom Brady NE
3 2 Philip Rivers LAC
1 1 Jimmy Garoppolo SF
 - 1 Sam Darnold NYJ
 - 1 Andy Dalton CIN
 - 1 Derek Carr OAK
 - 1 Matthew Stafford DET
1 1 Josh Allen BUF

Observations: Unsurprisingly, Patrick Mahomes ($21) set the market at the position. If he can come close to repeating last season, he's probably worth $7 more than every other quarterback. However, if he dips to 42 TDs - which is what I am projecting - and another quarterback such as Deshaun Watson ($14) or Carson Wentz ($11) can rekindle their magic from 2017, then it's going to be difficult for Mahomes' owner to justify the price tag. Only six quarterbacks drew a double-digit bid, further illustrating just how deep owners feel the position is nowadays. It was a bit surprising to see Andrew Luck ($13) to draw the bid he did considering he has been dealing with his mysterious lower-body injury since the spring. Kyler Murray ($3) was a stunner, as my above valuation suggests. In a league such as this one where quarterbacks get four points per passing touchdown and six for rushing scores, the value of an athletic signal-caller like Murray goes up. He comes with plenty of hype as well, which typically jacks up his price tag - even among industry analysts.

As the last sentence suggests, I strive for quarterbacks with the ability to provide at least 200 rushing yards and a few touchdowns on the ground in leagues such as this one. Short of that, I want a proven starter with a great supporting cast. While most owners draft two quarterbacks just to be on the safe side, I think there is plenty of merit of going with one in a 12-team league - especially if an owner lands one of the top five options at the position.

Total spent at QB: $17

 Running Backs
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
46 52 Alvin Kamara NO
49 52 Christian McCaffrey CAR
51 52 Saquon Barkley NYG
42 49 David Johnson ARI
45 48 Ezekiel Elliott DAL
41 42 James Conner PIT
40 41 Le'Veon Bell NYJ
46 38 Dalvin Cook MIN
37 33 Todd Gurley LAR
34 31 Joe Mixon CIN
21 30 Melvin Gordon LAC
32 30 Kerryon Johnson DET
33 30 Nick Chubb CLE
19 29 Devonta Freeman ATL
30 28 Leonard Fournette JAC
28 28 Derrick Henry TEN
26 27 Damien Williams KC
28 26 Mark Ingram BAL
13 26 Kenyan Drake MIA
32 23 David Montgomery CHI
25 23 Chris Carson SEA
26 23 Marlon Mack IND
26 22 Josh Jacobs OAK
26 22 Aaron Jones GB
21 19 James White NE
8 15 Tarik Cohen CHI
13 15 Sony Michel NE
17 14 Phillip Lindsay DEN
9 14 Lamar Miller HOU
13 12 Miles Sanders PHI
15 12 Tevin Coleman SF
8 9 Jordan Howard PHI
7 8 Jaylen Samuels PIT
5 8 Rashaad Penny SEA
7 7 Darrell Henderson LAR
8 6 Royce Freeman DEN
11 5 Austin Ekeler LAC
3 4 Matt Breida SF
2 4 Justice Hill  BAL
15 4 Latavius Murray NO
3 5 Dion Lewis TEN
3 3 LeSean McCoy BUF
1 3 Giovani Bernard CIN
3 3 Ronald Jones TB
1 3 Jerick McKinnon SF
1 3 Damien Harris NE
3 3 Kalen Ballage MIA
1 2 Nyheim Hines IND
3 2 Alexander Mattison MIN
1 2 Chris Thompson WAS
5 2 Derrius Guice WAS
- 1 Jamaal Williams GB
1 1 Darwin Thompson KC
6 1 Adrian Peterson WAS
- 1 Chase Edmonds ARI
6 1 Peyton Barber TB
7 1 Kareem Hunt CLE
1 1 Mike Davis CHI
- 1 Theo Riddick DEN
1 1 Duke Johnson HOU
3 1 Tony Pollard DAL
1 1 Frank Gore BUF
- 1 Ty Montgomery NYJ
- 1 Jalen Richard OAK
1 1 Ito Smith ATL
- 1 Ryquell Armstead JAC
2 1 Devin Singletary BUF
- 1 C.J. Anderson DET
- 1 Andre Ellington TB
4 1 Justin Jackson LAC
1 1 Malcolm Brown LAR
5 1 Carlos Hyde KC
- 1 Devine Ozigbo NO
1 1 Rex Burkhead NE
- 1 Kenneth Dixon BAL
- 1 Corey Clement PHI
- 1 Darren Sproles PHI
- 1 Gus Edwards BAL
1 1 Benny Snell  PIT
1 1 Darius Jackson DAL

Observations: Although it is far from revolutionary, one auction strategy that has served me well in terms of preparing my pre-draft valuations is taking a look back to the last 2-3 years of winning auctions, especially at the running back position. In this particular league, the most elite running backs rarely attract $50 bids anymore. When an owner can confidently set his/her ceiling in terms of what the most coveted player at the position will bring in an auction, it makes the whole process so much easier. Without fail, I want an elite running back every year. I also don't want to be the owner setting the market at a position. As mentioned earlier, I recognized Kamara ($46) would probably be considered as the fourth-best player available in the draft, so he was a target. For the second straight year, my top target was the first player nominated. For the second straight year, I got my guy. That's another critical point to make about auctions: find a valuation sheet you trust and don't stray too far away from those prices, work out some possible scenarios before the draft and be ready to pounce when a player you like goes from well below the value you had set for him. Kenyan Drake ($13) was that player for me at running back; regardless of whether he starts or not, is there a likely scenario in which he isn't heavily targeted?

Cook ($46) was my primary RB2 target - as that potential RB1 who comes at a discount because of his injury history I mentioned earlier - after I landed Kamara, but the bidding for him quickly got out of hand, as he ended up going for the same price as Kamara. While Cook is definitely poised to explode this year, I would need to know Ezekiel Elliott ($45) was missing games for sure before I could justify that price. What made it even odder was that Cook was the fifth player to come up for bid, two spots ahead of Elliott. Another curious call by the league had to do with Melvin Gordon ($21). I'll be the first to admit that I'm not sure he is worth a first-round pick in fantasy drafts even before he decided to hold out given his durability issues. But $21? That was the same price as James White and $11 less than David Montgomery attracted. It's also $5 less than Marlon Mack, Josh Jacobs and Aaron Jones. Again, this happened within the first 20 minutes of the draft, so it's hard to blame it on lack of funds or significant tier drop. (David Johnson and Joe Mixon were among the backs still available.)

I quickly shifted gears to Gurley ($37), who may be the one player I was willing to bend my budgeting rules for. There's no question he comes with risk, but I maintain - as I have all summer long - that the Rams would have done more to address the position if they didn't think Gurley would only be a shell of himself. As I mentioned earlier this summer, even if we trim 25 percent of his production across the board (touches, yards, touchdowns, etc.) in each of the last two years, he still would have finished as the RB8 in 2018 and RB5 in 2017. I can live with the risk if he can deliver that kind of production, even if it is only for 10 or 12 games.

Had the draft been held one week later, I may have shifted my RB2 focus from Gurley to Chris Carson ($25) or Nick Chubb ($33). It's becoming pretty clear that for as much as the Seahawks drafted Rashaad Penny to eventually be the man, Carson isn't allowing it to happen. Chubb's stock got a nice boost once the Duke Johnson trade to Houston was announced a few days after the draft. Besides Cook, Montgomery ($32) and Latavius Murray ($15) jump out to me as the most obvious overpays. Like Cook, Montgomery could easily live up to his price tag, but he's probably going to need some help in the form of Mike Davis and/or Tarik Cohen getting hurt. While I love the talent, I'm not sure Chicago's depth will allow him to ascend into the Chubb-Mixon-Kerryon Johnson tier this year. Gridiron Experts admitted he overpaid a bit on Murray in order to secure some peace of mind with Elliott's situation in limbo. Then again, if we look back to how much owners were spending for Mark Ingram last year when everyone knew he would miss four games, then perhaps Murray could be considered a bit of a value here after all.

In terms of great values, it's hard not to like single-digit dollar acquisitions of potential high-end players such as Royce Freeman ($8), Jaylen Samuels ($7), Penny ($5), Ronald Jones ($3), Justice Hill ($2) and Duke Johnson ($1). While none of the players figure to be "league winners," all have reasonably clear paths to be solid flex plays and could ascend to RB2 status if things break right.

Total spent at RB: $98

 Wide Receivers
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
48 49 DeAndre Hopkins HOU
47 48 Julio Jones ATL
41 46 JuJu Smith-Schuster PIT
47 46 Davante Adams GB
41 42 Michael Thomas NO
34 42 Antonio Brown OAK
41 40 Odell Beckham Jr. CLE
40 40 Tyreek Hill KC
37 38 T.Y. Hilton IND
33 38 Mike Evans TB
30 36 Adam Thielen MIN
34 35 Keenan Allen LAC
29 34 Amari Cooper DAL
27 34 Chris Godwin TB
30 34 Julian Edelman NE
33 33 Stefon Diggs MIN
24 31 D.J. Moore CAR
21 31 Robert Woods LAR
20 30 Calvin Ridley ATL
15 29 Tyler Boyd CIN
14 28 Mike Williams LAC
24 28 Brandin Cooks LAR
20 26 Tyler Lockett SEA
18 26 Kenny Golladay DET
16 25 Cooper Kupp LAR
16 23 Allen Robinson CHI
14 20 Larry Fitzgerald ARI
14 15 Robby Anderson NYJ
11 15 Christian Kirk ARI
20 15 Curtis Samuel CAR
10 14 Alshon Jeffery PHI
3 14 Dede Westbrook JAC
3 13 DeSean Jackson PHI
21 12 A.J. Green CIN
9 11 Geronimo Allison GB
4 10 Anthony Miller CHI
3 9 Sammy Watkins KC
10 8 Sterling Shepard NYG
9 8 Jarvis Landry CLE
5 8 Marvin Jones DET
3 6 Trey Quinn WAS
5 6 Courtland Sutton DEN
3 6 Jamison Crowder NYJ
10 6 Dante Pettis SF
8 6 Keke Coutee HOU
6 5 Will Fuller HOU
5 5 Donte Moncrief PIT
2 4 Michael Gallup DAL
4 4 Golden Tate NYG
1 4 Parris Campbell IND
13 4 Corey Davis TEN
1 3 D.K. Metcalf SEA
2 3 Albert Wilson MIA
2 3 DeVante Parker MIA
1 3 Kenny Stills MIA
4 2 Tyrell Williams OAK
2 Mohamed Sanu ATL
4 2 Devin Funchess IND
4 2 Emmanuel Sanders DEN
3 2 John Brown BUF
2 2 Robert Foster BUF
2 2 James Washington PIT
7 2 Marquez Valdes-Scantling GB
1 1 Cole Beasley BUF
1 1 Danny Amendola DET
- 1 Keelan Cole JAC
1 1 DaeSean Hamilton DEN
- 1 Nelson Agholor PHI
- 1 A.J. Brown TEN
- 1 Antonio Callaway CLE
- 1 Breshad Perriman TB
- 1 Josh Doctson WAS
1 1 Maurice Harris NE
- 1 John Ross CIN
1 1 Andy Isabella ARI
1 1 Trent Taylor SF
1 1 KeeSean Johnson ARI
1 1 Marquise Goodwin SF
- 1 David Moore SEA
- 1 Tre'Quan Smith NO
- 1 Adam Humphries TEN
- 1 Willie Snead BAL
- 1 Deebo Samuel SF
- 1 Marquise Brown BAL
1 1 Miles Boykin BAL
1 1 Quincy Enunwa NYJ
- 1 Zay Jones BUF
- 1 Taylor Gabriel CHI
- 1 Hunter Renfrow OAK
1 1 Marqise Lee JAC
- 1 Chris Conley JAC
3 1 Josh Gordon NE
- 1 Randall Cobb DAL
- 1 Ted Ginn Jr. NO
- 1 JJ Arcega-Whiteside PHI
2 1 N'Keal Harry NE
- 1 Deon Cain IND
- 1 Mecole Hardman KC
- 1 Travis Benjamin LAC
- 1 Jaron Brown SEA
2 1 Phillip Dorsett NE
- 1 Ryan Switzer PIT
- 1 Emmanuel Butler NO
- 1 Justin Watson TB
- 1 DJ Chark JAC
- 1 Jake Kumerow GB
- 1 Preston Williams MIA
1 Jakobi Meyers NE
1 1 Paul Richardson WAS

Observations: It's always fascinating to see what elite (or near-elite) receivers fall through the cracks in auctions. Antonio Brown ($34) wasn't a huge shock given his departure from Pittsburgh and all the drama he has recently brought to the table. It's a bit more surprising that Mike Evans ($33) and Adam Thielen ($30) didn't go for a bit more given that the former will be playing for a coach who embraces the vertical passing game more than perhaps any other coach in the league, while the latter has been a top-10 fantasy WR in each of the last two seasons.

On the other of the spectrum, A.J. Green drawing a $21 bid when there is very little certainty he will be ready in September was an eye-opener. I realize Hill ($40) has been cleared by the NFL, but I am still treating him very much as a high-risk player. The degree to which some owners are unfazed by the likelihood of him either getting himself in hot water again baffles me probably about as much as my willingness to believe in Gurley baffles everyone else. The difference between the two cases is there is a limited number of running backs capable of performing at Gurley's level even if he only handles 75 percent of his usual workload and/or misses a few games. I have 15 receivers projected for at least 80 catches, 13 projected for at least 1,100 yards receiving and five for at least 10 touchdowns. Of course, that's not to say every one of those players will reach those benchmarks, but there's a much stronger possibility of it than a similar number of running backs doing what Gurley is capable of doing - even at 75 percent of his usual workload.

Given the quality and quantity of potential WR2s this year, there will inevitably be a few players who draw lower bids than expected. In this draft, Kenny Golladay ($18), Allen Robinson ($16), Tyler Boyd ($15) and Mike Williams ($14) were some of the more surprising. Even in an offense that should see depressed volume, Golladay should live up to his price tag in this draft. Robinson will be nearly two years removed from ACL surgery by the start of the season and did some solid work over the second half of 2018 - highlighted by his 10-143-1 performance in the playoff loss to the Eagles. Boyd may not be a one-for-one replacement for A.J. Green while the latter recovers, but he should see a healthy amount of volume regardless. Williams has as good a chance to lead his position group in touchdowns as anyone.

It seems like there is at least one zero-RB owner in every draft and this league's advocate has routinely been RotoViz (Stefon Diggs, Hill, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Sammy Watkins, Dede Westbrook, etc.). It's hard not to like what USA TODAY Sports did at the position even if he didn't secure one of the recognized elite options (Geronimo Allison, Chris Godwin, Golladay, Donte Moncrief, D.J. Moore and Golden Tate). USA TODAY Sports did well to land Carson, Josh Jacobs and Marlon Mack as his starting backs, making his team as balanced and deep at the most important positions as any team in the league. Even with two owners acquiring that much receiver talent on their teams, there was still plenty left for the majority of owners though.

Some of the better bargains at receiver: Fitzgerald ($14), Christian Kirk ($11), Alshon Jeffrey ($10), Jarvis Landry ($9), Moncrief ($5), Anthony Miller ($4), Westbrook ($3), DeSean Jackson ($3), Jamison Crowder ($3), Watkins ($3), Michael Gallup ($2) and Parris Campbell ($1).

Total spent at WR: $67

 Tight Ends
Actual $ My $ Player Tm
33 28 Travis Kelce KC
26 24 George Kittle SF
20 23 Zach Ertz PHI
14 15 O.J. Howard TB
10 14 Jared Cook NO
13 13 Evan Engram NYG
6 10 Eric Ebron IND
11 10 Vance McDonald PIT
9 10 Hunter Henry LAC
3 7 Delanie Walker TEN
2 6 Austin Hooper ATL
3 4 Darren Waller OAK
3 4 David Njoku CLE
1 4 Mark Andrews BAL
1 3 Chris Herndon NYJ
4 3 Jordan Reed WAS
3 3 Jimmy Graham GB
1 2 Kyle Rudolph MIN
1 Dallas Goedert PHI
2 1 Trey Burton CHI
1 Jason Witten DAL
1 T.J. Hockenson DET
1 Noah Fant DEN
1 Mike Gesicki MIA
1 Ian Thomas CAR
4 1 Jack Doyle IND
1 1 Greg Olsen CAR

Observations: It was pretty much a given Kelce ($33) was going to be expensive, although I'm not sure I expected the highest bid I can remember a tight end going for in this league. While I certainly don't have a problem with paying up for a tight end who produces like a WR1, the question is whether 2018 is going to become the new normal with Mahomes as his quarterback or if it was a well-timed career year. I also struggle with Kelce going for $13 more than Ertz ($20) and more than twice as much as O.J. Howard ($14), Evan Engram ($13), Jared Cook ($10) and Hunter Henry ($9).

It can be a bit scary to go cheap at tight end when you consider that at least 25 percent of the owners in a 12-team league will be starting Kelce, Kittle or Ertz almost every week, but there is significant talent that will be available cheap at the end of just about every auction. Delanie Walker ($3) is a steal if he can go back to being the same dependable option he was prior to last year's season-ending ankle injury. At his price, it's worth finding out if he's got one more year left in his 35-year-old body. It was odd to see Hooper ($2) go so cheap. I'm personally not a fan of his ability to repeat his overall TE6 finish last year, but he's still a serviceable starter in my book and a bargain at that price. The same can probably be said for Mark Andrews ($1).

Darren Waller ($3) has been a consistent target of mine all summer and will continue to be. David Njoku ($3) has overall TE1 talent, but is there going to be enough volume in Cleveland? Last but not least, Chris Herndon ($1) should not be going for a buck in any league that has an IR spot or two like this league does. He's a great stash in those leagues and allows owners to free up a spot on the roster for another high-upside talent before the season starts.

Total spent at TE: $15

Actual $ My $ Player Tm
5 1 Greg Zuerlein LAR
2 1 Justin Tucker BAL
1 1 Wil Lutz NO
3 1 Harrison Butker KC
1 1 Ka'imi Fairbairn HOU
1 1 Robbie Gould SF
1 1 Stephen Gostkowski NE
1 1 Jake Elliott PHI
1 1 Giorgio Tavecchio ATL
1 1 Mike Badgley LAC
1 1 Josh Lambo JAC
1 1 Ryan Succop TEN

Observations: Year after year, I look for the same qualities in a kicker. I want someone with a strong leg in a good offense. Additionally, I often target kickers who play on teams with good or great defenses since coaches are more apt to settle for field goals when they are confident their defense can keep the opponent off the board. Short of that, I want a team who I believe will have a good offense but bogs down in the red zone because it lacks a strong running attack. I'm not sure why I've been able to land Tucker ($2) in as many as "expert" drafts as I have so far, but he's about as much of a sit-it-and-forget-it option as there is at the position. I have no problem spending the extra dollar for him, especially when Zuerlein went for $5 and Butker for $3.

Total spent at K: $2

 Defense / ST
Actual $ My $ Team
6 1 Bears
2 1 Rams
2 1 Chargers
1 1 Broncos
1 1 Vikings
1 1 Cowboys
1 1 Eagles
1 1 Jaguars
1 1 Ravens
1 1 Bills
1 1 Texans
1 1 Panthers
1 1 Patriots

Observations: Almost every year it seems, someone in this league spends at least $5 on a defense. I value a rock-solid defense more than most, but owners who bid that much are paying (and hoping) for roughly 3-4 huge weeks at most, all while sacrificing a potential handcuff or low-end starter at another position. Unless a D/ST unit goes on to have a truly historic year, they are unlikely to yield a good enough return on investment to be worth that bid. Without having done my matchup analysis on defenses at the time of this draft, I went with my belief in Vic Fangio and the impressive talent Denver has at some of the more important positions (Von Miller, Bradley Chubb and Chris Harris).

Total spent at D/ST: $1


The FFToday team
QB: Deshaun Watson, Jameis Winston*
RB: Alvin Kamara, Todd Gurley, Kenyan Drake, Giovani Bernard, Malcolm Brown
WR: Julio Jones, Larry Fitzgerald, James Washington*, Paris Campbell, Miles Boykin, Maurice Harris, Danny Amendola
TE: O.J. Howard, Chris Herndon
K: Justin Tucker
D/ST: Denver Broncos

* Since traded for Josh Allen and Anthony Miller

Through about two hours of the draft, I could not have been much happier. My biggest self-critique at that point was not bidding more on Smith-Schuster ($41), which would have saved me a few bucks over Julio Jones ($47). But two momentary lapses in judgment at quarterback cost me from building the kind of team I was capable of putting together. To be clear, I have no problem with Watson (my overall QB2) and Winston (QB10). But spending $17 on the two of them when I had set my sights on Kyler Murray and Lamar Jackson - who ended up going for $3 apiece - entering the draft made it nearly impossible to get the WR3 I could have otherwise landed. That was a bitter pill to swallow late when I did not have enough left to secure wideouts such as Dede Westbrook or DeSean Jackson. While I will place some of the blame on not having the time I would've liked to prepare for this draft, it was still a foolish mistake to make. Thankfully, if I'm going to enter the season with a weakness - and every team has one - it would be at my WR3 spot.

I'll admit I was not happy with myself when I realized the impact my "decision" at quarterback had at receiver. (I feel I corrected that somewhat via my aforementioned trade, but it's still a position I should not have put myself in.) Thankfully, I took a look at last year's draft as I began to write this article and realized only one of my low-end WR1 selections (Stefon Diggs, Doug Baldwin and Emmanuel Sanders) from 2018 was still contributing to my team at the end of the year. Throw in the fact how little return on investment I got from Rob Gronkowski and it's reasonable to wonder how my team won the league going away.

Regarding the composition of this team, I'm not sure there's much to discuss at quarterback. Few will argue Houston and Tampa Bay should field two of the more explosive offenses in 2019. Of course, my trade changes things. I'm not a big fan of Allen this year, so the odds are strong he will be off my roster sooner than later. I have also started to move away from keeping a backup quarterback on the roster in recent years anyway, so I may use Allen's roster spot to add depth at running back or receiver.

There is obvious risk at the running back position. Yet, I'm not sure I've ever entered a season in this league with a better trio. Kamara is about as safe as they come at running back because so many of his touches come as a receiver AND he isn't asked to carry a heavy load as a runner. RB2s almost always come with some kind of risk, so if the price I have to pay for potential top-five production at the position is a surprise inactive or two or four over the course of the season, that's OK. Show me another back capable of what Gurley can do.

I was thrilled to get Drake at $13. While owners fret about whether he will start over Kalen Ballage or not, I'll take my chances Miami will face plenty of negative game script. I see a cheaper version of 2018 James White who should get more touches than his New England counterpart did. I had no intention of nominating Brown as early as I did and equally surprised no one bid him up. While handcuffing isn't exactly a goal of mine anymore, securing Brown makes me feel even better about landing Gurley. Bernard also strikes me as an underrated option in 2019. It wouldn't surprise me much if he sees more usage than Darrell Henderson AND I think he'll be asked to serve as the primary back in the event Mixon is forced to miss a game or two.

I feel much better about the receiver position now than I did in the moments following the draft. No one is going to quibble about Jones as a WR1, especially on a team that has Kamara and Gurley at running back. The mistake I made with Fitzgerald last year wasn't taking an older receiver, but one from a team with a bad offensive line paired with a largely immobile quarterback and an offensive coordinator with a poor recent track record. I have no problem with him being my WR2 this year. Getting stuck with James Washington as my WR3 was what really upset me, even though I believe Campbell can ascend to that status before the end of the season. Getting Miller in a trade - trades don't happen very often in this league - was a big deal for me, as I consider him to be a viable WR3 right away. Harris is a complete wild-card who flashed for Washington last year, and he appears to have a bit of edge to become a starter in New England. We'll see about that, but he's worth a flier at $1. Amendola was honestly a poor call on my part when players like Hardman and particularly Sanu were still on the board. Both went undrafted, however, so I still have a chance to right that wrong.

The tight end position has long been a sore subject for my team in this league. I thought I ended it last year by nabbing Rob Gronkowski, but I was too late to that party. Beginning with my primary dynasty team this spring, I identified Howard as a player I believe is capable of making the jump into elite TE1 territory. Durability has been the only thing to hold him back through his first two seasons. Even though he is staring at a four-game suspension to begin the season, Herndon for $1 was another stunner to me. Not only can I place him on IR to begin the season and open up a roster spot, but I think he makes for great insurance for Howard.

Tucker is about as good as it gets at kicker, so I should be set there. The Broncos begin their season with the Raiders, Bears, Packers, Jaguars, Chargers and Titans. Given the talent and coaching acumen Denver has, I would be surprised if four of those matchups weren't favorable. I'm hoping the Broncos will be my defense for the whole season, but I'll probably revisit where I stand with them when September ends.

Doug Orth has written for FF Today since 2006 and been featured in USA Today’s Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He hosted USA Today’s hour-long, pre-kickoff fantasy football internet chat every Sunday in 2012-13 and appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, including Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive”. Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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